Driving with Dementia – The Risks and Legal Implications

driving with dementiaThe Legal Implications Of Driving With Dementia

By 2030, 90% of the country’s seniors will still have their driving license, according to Triple A. However, with age often comes a deterioration of health. One in 10 seniors over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s dementia, reports the Alzheimer’s Association. It’s important that the aging population hold on to their independence and that awareness of dementia is raised. But, what are the legal implications of a dementia patient hitting the road in their car? Driving with dementia is a serious and not widely discussed topic.

Is it legal to drive with dementia?

The good news is that a diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for your license. The law regarding dementia and driving varies from state to state, with some requiring physicians to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) post diagnosis. In my state of North Carolina, under the Driver Medical Evaluation Program, anyone with dementia will be referred to the Division of Motor Vehicles who will review your situation. In some cases, restrictions regarding your speed and times you may drive may be implemented. However, this isn’t anything to worry about is done purely to protect you and other road users.

Dementia, driving & impairment

While driving with dementia isn’t illegal, driving while under the influence of drink or drugs is. As a common symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, the possibility of getting behind the wheel when you’re over the legal limit is high. In all states other than Utah, it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or above. Should you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential that you seek the advice of qualified attorney. This leading Gilbert DUI attorney states that in such a case an attorney “will focus on challenging, minimizing, and/or suppressing any alleged evidence against you in order to obtain the best outcome possible.”

Hanging up your keys

As dementia is a progressive disease, you’re unlikely to be deemed a risk on the roads immediately after your diagnosis. It’s a good idea to regularly travel with loved ones and get their opinion regarding whether you’re still a safe driver as they may notice issues that you don’t. But, remember, even when you do stop driving, there are plenty of alternative modes of transport, such as taxis and buses, as well as family and friends, to take you to your weekly classes and to the shops.

Driving with dementia is legal, although, you may need to be evaluated and monitored on your fitness to drive. However, as your condition progresses it’s worth considering alternative modes of transport to ensure you safely arrive at your intended destination.